Katherine Snell 10th
Joy Stark 18th
Candice Boyd 23rd
Lisa Ludwig 24th
My goal for Turtle Pond was to implement the lessons learned from Battenkill (and let’s face it, every other hilly race) and not to get dropped on the climb. At least not in the first lap. I slotted myself right in front on the starting line, but the rollout wasn’t as smooth or neutral as I was expecting and I lost my position. Folks toward the back seemed wound up and I regretted that I had a view of their naively-aggressive riding. The descent from the first climb was fast, so I decided I would hang out where I was toward the back until it seemed safe to move up. This was a naïve move on my part because I didn’t realize that we had two 90-degree turns ahead. The folks in the back of the pack went through the second turn like we were riding through molasses, and when the front of the pack surged out of the turn, I struggled to catch up. I chased, panted, chased some more, and panted even more, until the pack was no longer visible.
After a few minutes I caught up to Kelsea Mullaly from CVC, who latched onto my wheel. We were in the last stretch of the lap when a strong-looking rider from UNH blew by us. It took me a second to realize that she was in our race, having suffered a mechanical on the climb. I got on her wheel and lapped up the sweet recovery her draft offered. We were cruising, but my effort was so light that I began to regret not bringing along a knitting project to work on while I sat in. That changed when we hit the climb again and picked up another two riders—one from CVC and the other from Placid Planet. Amazingly, the UNH and Placid Planet women insisted on doing all of the work for the rest of the race. I have no idea why they only rotated spots with each other in front, but Kelsea and I certainly enjoyed the ride.
In the last lap we dropped the other CVC rider and it occurred to me that the four of us remaining were going to have to duke it out at the finish. I’ve never been in the position where I’ve had to really sprint at the finish, so I was a bit unsure about how to play it. I was the last rider in our train of four, so when the UNH women took off the front with 200 meters to go and Kelsea followed, I chased them. I pedaled hard, my legs screamed, and when I realized that the Placid Planet woman was too far back to catch me, and the other two could not be caught, I rolled easy through the line. Good lessons learned in the race that I look forward to applying at Sterling!
Turtle Pond Road Race 2010: My first race, need I say more. Seriously though, it was a fantastic yet humbling experience. My fiance/coach who raced for ten years in CA has been coaching me since February. As much as I have listened to him intently, trained as hard and smart as possible and read a lot on training and racing, nothing could have prepared me more for racing then actually experiencing my first race. I felt great, was excited, talked to NEBC teammates prior to starting and actually rode the course an hour before the race. Although, I knew the first hill was going to be fairly long and steep but nothing I haven’t climb fairly well before. I love rolling hills and was psyched for the rest of the course. Then the race started and everything was different. They said the first hill was going to be neutral…that was the first hard lessons learned, in my opinion it was far from neutral. My heart started racing and the hill automatically seemed ten times as steep. When we reached the top, the pack took off and that was the beginning of the end, at least riding with the pack. The rest of the race was one big TT which actually was pretty cool. I did end up connecting on and off with another NEBC teammate, Lisa Ludwig and another woman. The entire day was a wonderful experience but I am glad my first race is now behind me. I am already signed up for my second race in Sterling and a real TT in Kennebunk, ME. I am hooked.
Despite not being a climber, I still torture myself by going to road races. Turtle Pond is a good one for me since it doesn’t have a ridiculous amount of climbing compared to other races like Housatonic Hills. My goals were to improve on last year’s finish (14th) and stay with the lead group as long as possible. Arriving at the race I was greeted with a bit of good news in that the Hot Hole Road “wall” had been eliminated this year. Thank goodness for the opening of fishing season! That meant that I would only have to survive two climbs up Oak Hill and not work too hard on the “neutral” climb on the first lap. We had a brief team meeting and discussed strategy. I expected the CT teams (CVC and Cycling Concepts) to make some kind of move during the race.
After a brief warm-up, I rolled up to the staging area only to wait for about 15 minutes before we could actually start behind one of the men’s fields moving through. I managed to start in good position, 3 or 4 wheels back. This turned out to be key as the “neutral” climb was in no way neutral due to the huge gap between us and the pace car. I summitted the climb about mid-pack and worked my way back towards the front being careful not to actually get on the front and do too much work like I did last year. Again this position was strategic as the leaders decided to attack out of the corners like it was a crit. It seemed like a pretty senseless waste of energy to me, especially as they slowed back down once we were a few hundred yards out of the corner. The return back up to School Street was pretty much uneventful. I then used the downhill section to get back on the front, carefully monitoring my power meter to make sure I wasn’t working too hard as I towed the field at 35+ MPH back to the finish. I let a couple of other riders get ahead of me before the climb and rested a little and did my best to maintain position up Oak Hill. Blissfully we were neutralized on the climb by a passing me’s field which allowed me to stay with the group.
The next lap was pretty much a repeat of the first with the exception of a crash right next to me as riders attention lapsed as the group to a break to feed. We then headed back up Oak Hill for the third and final climb. This time the group split more seriously. We were again neutralized but this time it wasn’t helpful as it ended up increasing the gap between my group and the lead group. Our group got organized and I saw a hole on the inside and we shot ahead of the men’s field. Their pace predictably quickened as we pulled ahead and one of the guys shouted “Hey, we just got girled!” and they passed us and eventually our lead group ahead of us. We worked very diligently and hard to catch back. Despite closing the gap a little, it was clear that we weren’t going to catch the lead group as we turned back onto School Street so I relaxed a little and conserved energy for the sprint against the two Cycling Concepts ladies in my group. Almost like a reminder, at the 200m to go sign, the sprint was started unexpectedly by a plain jerseyed gal in our group. She got a good jump on me and I could quite close the gap to finish about a half a wheel behind her in 10th place. All-in-all I’m pretty happy with the result in what was a very hard effort.